As the days get colder, we’re going to need the warming powers of tequila and mezcal — with mushrooms?
A new Mexican spirits-focused bar, Ghost Donkey (4 Bleecker St.), just opened in the East Village space that used to be Madam Geneva. Behind the bar, Hospitality group AvroKO brought over Ignacio Jimenez from their bar The Daily and Eben Freeman, last seen making bartenders of customers at Genuine Liquorette.
Inside their new year-round fiesta with holiday lights and, yes, even a donkey, Freeman concocted one very intriguing take on the traditional Mexican cocktail: the Mushroom Margarita, which brings together huitlacoche-infused Del Maguey Vida mezcal, triple sec, lime and lava salt.
Huitlacoche is actually a fungus known as “corn smut” that looks like gray bubbles when it grows on ears of corn. It’s commonly found in sauces at Mexican restaurants to give it depth of flavor, and Freeman thought it could do the same to a cocktail.
“The inspiration came a while ago when I experienced a chef at Tailor cooking with mushrooms and tequila, and it occurred to me that you could do an infusion for cocktails,” says Freeman. “Mezcal has a pretty earthy character, and I thought that would blend well with huitlacoche, also known as the ‘truffle of the south.’”
If that sounds like more funk than your palate can handle, the lively cocktail list also includes El Burro Fantasma (mezcal, Aperol, agave, lime, pink grapefruit and chili, served in a ceramic donkey) and the Stone Wall featuring habanero cider, if you dare. There’s a frozen drink of the day, a variety of salts to rim your glasses, and cocktails with paletitas (mini popsicles) by La Newyorkina. Chef Brad Farmerie loosened his usual Public apron strings to create a menu of Mexican-inspired snacks, with a whole section of just nachos.
Ghost Donkey opens at 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and is closed on Sundays.